Apollon had a pretty decent previous season, as the team finished at the third position, having same number of points as AEK Larnaca but less goal difference as well. They ended up having only three points less than first placed APOEL and were actually competitive in the title race till the very end, actually losing the battle in last several rounds.
Of course, the target for this season is to build up on that, while playing in Europa League group stage would represent a success for them, but also quite achievable goal – depending on the draw for the play-off stage. They did well till now, as the team played four matches so far in qualifiers but is still yet to concede. In first round they were better than Ceadir Lunga from Moldova with a 4:0 aggregate score and 2:0 both victories, while they had no problems in second leg either, winning over Lithuanian Trakai 4:0 at home in the first leg and having a goalless draw on the road. They were especially impressive in home match, where the team could have celebrated bigger margin victory wasting many more chances. Striker Kolokoudis and talented midfielder Stojanovic are playing especially well early in the season.
Gabala was more than lucky to progress till here, as the team didn’t show anything impressive till now in four matches played. If anything, they actually deserved to exit in the previous round against Serbian side Cukaricki. Both rounds they firstly played as visitors, showing very defensive and passive behavior in both matches.
In the first round they played against Dinamo Tbilisi, but lost the first leg in Georgia with a 2:1 score with all goals being scored late in the game, even though their hosts were playing with a man less from the start of second half. Back in returning leg, they didn’t create many chances till Dinamo once again stood with a man less and only then they were more concrete, scoring two goals (in a lucky way) in last five minutes of the game. Side was actually outplayed in the first leg of second round away in Belgrade against Cukaricki, but scored lucky 2:0 victory in repetition, even though the Serbian side missed so many chances during the ninety minutes.
Cypriot team is surely better than previous two opponents of Gabala, especially working better in offense. Team from Azerbaijan was already more than lucky to progress till here and anything but their defeat and exclusion from further competition would be a huge surprise. Odds on Apollon -1.5 Asian handicap are also more than tempting.
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